Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Southern Tea Time Getaway - Day 8

Our last day in Savannah was a free day with no scheduled events on the itinerary.  Most of us gathered for breakfast in the Hampton Inn dining room.  While we were there two impersonators came in.  One was portraying Forrest Gump, so I had to take his picture.

The movie, Forrest Gump, was a 1994 comedy-drama that starred Tom Hanks. One of his most remembered lines is "My Mom always said life was like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get."  As you can see in the picture, his box of chocolates is tucked beside his hand.

The scene with him sitting on a park bench was filmed in Savannah's Chippewa Square.  The bench can be seen at Savannah History Museum.  On our hop-on, hop-off bus tour later in the day the conductor showed us the diner on Broughton Street where his girlfriend, Jenny, worked.

[Internet Photos]

Initially I thought the other impersonator was Rosie the Riveter.  It wasn't until I got home and did some research that I discovered she was Frances [Frankie] Kennedy, who is often mistaken for Rosie because of her outfit.  Frankie was a welder, not a riveter.  After her brothers returned from the Army in WWII, she left college and came back to Savannah to help the war efforts.  She used her welding abilities to help build over 80 liberty ships that were used for war cargo.

They never mentioned they were hired by Old Savannah Trolley Tours to walk around Savannah impersonating people connected to the city.  

  [Internet Photo]

Had we known we might not have gone with their competitor, Old Town Trolley Tours.  My hubby drove us to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. where we purchased our one-day hop-on, hop-off trolley tickets.  The 90 minute tour covers 9 miles of Savannah's Historic District, Colonial District, and Victorian District.  The tour is narrated by the conductor during the 15-stop loop. Stop #1 is at the Visitors Center and History Museum.

Biancha was our first conductor, but throughout the day we had others. Our trolley tour began with Judy Garland singing The Trolley Song from her 1944 film, Meet Me In St. Louis.  How fun to hear "Clang, Clang, Clang went the Trolley..."  

We all decided to ride the complete trolley route and then get off at our desired stops, which for most of us was stop #3 - walking distance to Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room. The legendary Southern style dining room opens at 11:00 a.m. and we wanted to eat lunch/dinner there.  You can't visit Savannah without eating at Mrs. Wilkes.

I didn't take many notes on the trolley ride, only that the steeple on Independence Presbyterian Church is 225 feet tall, and Woodrow Wilson married his first wife, Ellen Axson, in the parsonage of that church.

We were duly warned that we would stand in a line at Mrs. Wilkes [they don't take reservations], and that's exactly what we did for an hour and a half - but it was worth the wait.  The store One-Fish Two-Fish was close by, so some helped pass the time by browsing or shopping.  

In 1943 Sema Wilkes took over a boarding house [Mrs. Dennis Dixon's boarding house] at 107 Jones St. in historic downtown Savannah to secure a room for herself and her husband during WWII.  Her goal was to make a living by offering comfortable lodging and homestyle Southern cooking served family style in the downstairs dining room.  In 1965 they bought the building.  She definitely achieved her goal because people come from far and wide to eat there, and all by word of mouth - no advertising.  

Below are the steps to the upstairs boarding house, which is still available for lodging. One tour guide on our trip told us the double staircases in old southern homes is because it was improper for a man to see an unmarried ladies' ankles as she ascended the steps, and if he saw them he was obliged to marry her.  To remedy that dilemma two staircases were constructed for entry, one for men and the other for ladies.  I don't know it that's true, but it makes for a cute story!  ;-)

Pictured below is Rebecca in our group.  We were finally at the front of the line, and ready to enter.

The entryway dining room.

Pictured below is the second dining room where we were seated.  I didn't count, but I read there are a total of seven tables that seat up to ten people. Our group got split up between two tables.  There were five of us at the table below and the remaining three people were friendly strangers. Pictured are Teresa and Linda.

Food is served family style, and I had to take two pictures to get all the bowls of food on the table!

Our offerings were: Mashed potatoes & gravy; cheesy potatoes, cabbage, lima beans, tomatoes & okra, black eyed peas, white rice, red rice with sausage, barbecued pork, fried chicken, cucumbers, cream corn, baked beans, stuffing, collard greens, roast beef with potatoes and carrots, macaroni and cheese, squash, rutabagas, corn bread and biscuits, a bottomless pitcher of sweet tea, and for dessert blueberry a la mode or banana pudding. 

Do I dare show you my plate?  I took a tablespoon of almost everything, [you can work up an appetite waiting in line! ;-)], and I ate everything except the pork.  We were trying to decide who had the best fried chicken - Paula Deen or Mrs. Wilkes.  Both were good.

Mrs. Wilkes died in 2002 at age 95,  and her great-grandson, Ryon Thompson runs the restaurant now. His mother, Marcia Thompson, is there everyday too, and we got to meet her when she stopped at our table.  Just as Ryon's great-grandmother did, he rings the dinner bell at 11:00 a.m. and says grace at the first serving.

Marcia was featured in the 2018 May/June issue of Savannah Magazine.

You know I couldn't leave without purchasing one of Mrs. Wilkes' cookbooks!

We waddled out of the dining room and caught the hop-on, hop-off trolley for a little more shopping and sightseeing, next post...


  1. Golly that dinner looks worth the wait!!

  2. Hop on, hop off (also known as HOHO) tours are a fun way to see a city. I love that the Savannah ones are trolleys. And I’m glad you got to visit Mrs. Wilkes. It's a legend, for sure.


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